Have I no friend will rid me of this living fear?
— Richard II
I returned to San Francisco for the premiere of Doctor Atomic on Saturday night. I've said more than enough on this subject already, so I'll let fellow critics thrash it out. Reviews have been all over the map, perceiving everything from a "masterpiece" to a "fizzle." Lisa Hirsch has links. Justin Davidson's review in Newsday comes closest to matching my feelings. I share Tony Tommasini's reservations about the balance of voices against orchestra, particularly in the magically intimate Act 1 Scene 2, which shows the Oppenheimers at home. The staging there and elsewhere needs to be reconfigured in more singer-friendly fashion. Otherwise, Peter Sellars and his creative team have unleashed some genuinely astounding images and tableaux; the Corn Dance in Act II made my hair stand on end. Take note of The Standing Room's commentary on the ending. I might try to write more observations later, but the season is churning on. Suffice to say that Doctor Atomic is the most complexly enthralling thing that's come along since I've been a critic.